No preparation for ‘rainy day’

budgetdebate2013denisloweMinister of Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, tonight lambasted the previous Owen Arthur administration for acknowledging the need to prepare for difficult economic times but refusing to put policies in place for such an eventuality during his tenure in office. He said the former Prime Minister had exacerbated this failure with a programme of state wastage.

During his contribution to debate on the 2013-2014 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals, Lowe said it was not a blaming game exercise in which he was engaging, but noted he recalled Arthur prior to losing the 2008 general election indicating the necessity to secure resources and prepare for a “rainy day”. He stated that Arthur’s government was well positioned to do this since the global economic situation was rosy and there was economic success in the island.

But instead, Dr. Lowe said, the BLP government engaged in the type of wastage that is still being felt today. He pointed to millions spent at Eastry House which he charged could not be accounted for; St. Leonard’s Secondary School and the Dodds Prison. He also noted that despite a time of great wealth in Barbados, Arthur’s government was still borrowing heavily and had left office with the island in a debt mess.

Lowe said the BLP wasted $100 million at Greenland without one piece of garbage reaching that location. He revealed that in addition to those millions, prior to losing the general election the BLP government had proposals to spend a further $142 million at Greenland even before any garbage was received at the St. Andrew site.

The Christ Church East MP chided members of the Opposition who during the debate had sought to downplay the effect of the global economic crisis on Barbados or in some cases suggested the crisis did not exist.

Lowe said he had great faith in Barbadians, their intellect and their ability to avail themselves of global information related to the economic crisis. He said the Freundel Stuart Administration had been working assiduously in extremely difficult circumstances to steer the ship of state and maintain social equilibrium in the island.

The environment minister said that had the Opposition BLP won the February 21 general election thousands of Barbadians would now have been on the breadline.

He revealed that there were plans to dismiss 400 workers from the National Housing Corporation; 100 from the National Conservation Commission; 300 from the National Cultural Foundation; 2 000 from the healthcare sector; 1 000 from the education sector; as well as hundreds from the Barbados Water Authority; Grantley Adams International Airport; Barbados Water Authority; and the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.

Lowe said this was all part of the BLP’s 15-point plan to “Rescue, Rebuild and Restore”.

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